All in the Queen’s retinue are clad in silks and satins. Gowns shimmer like sunlit water, in every color imaginable. But none shine so brightly as the young Queen herself. Dressed in white satin gown, she is the sun, the source of all colors cascading out from around her. It is the Queen’s Denouement Ball.
Clustered about their Queen, the women dip their heads and whisper to each other behind painted fans. Pearls adorn graceful necks. Feathered plumes bob in complicated headdresses. We stand in an antechamber just outside the grand ballroom. Peering past the Queen and her other women, I see the farther stone wall is covered in large, colorful tapestries. Chandeliers cast welcome candlelight, and music emanates softly. A parquet floor unifies the two rooms.
The Ball is about to begin. The women fuss over the Queen as they prepare to enter, smooth her skirts, her glossy, dark hair. The Queen’s guard stand to either side of her and, to my surprise, these well-muscled and whiskered men are dressed in satin gowns, as well – one in pale blue, the other in pink. Neither seems the least bit distressed or uncomfortable. The Denouement Ball is, after all, a strictly female function, and they must dress the costumed part to fulfill their obligation as protectors to the Queen.
Of all the attendants, I alone am woefully underdressed. Wearing jeans and black t-shirt, I feel coarse, common. I keep to the edges of that brilliant human spectrum, a dull shadow to their light.